Spartan Lawyer Winter 2019

A Message from the Dean

Dear Spartan Lawyers and Friends,

I greet you once again at the close of 2019 with the hope that your year has been productive and enjoyable. It has certainly been a momentous year for the Law College, as discussed in more detail below.

In this issue of Spartan Lawyer, we talk to academics and practitioners to explore what the next decade holds in three rapidly shifting areas of the law: cannabis, companion animals, and vehicle automation. We also recognize Professor Bruce Bean’s retirement and share expert insights on how mid-career Spartan lawyers can position themselves for new opportunities.

I suppose that the informal theme of this magazine issue is change, a topic that came up for me during a recent radio interview. The interviewer asked me about whether the legal profession is changing because it is in crisis, to which I responded in the negative. To paraphrase myself, I think that the legal profession is changing today because it is always changing. A century ago, many lawyers made their living doing title examinations. Almost no lawyer does such work today. The fundamental nature of law practice is dynamic – sometimes the pace of change is rapid, sometimes it is slow. But just as the law is itself never stagnant, the manner in which legal services are delivered is always evolving.

None of us can know what the legal profession, or indeed, the world, will look like in a decade’s time. I am, however, confident that our talented and capable graduates will continue in the footsteps of their predecessors, improving our shared profession and their communities.

In this spirit of progress, we continue working towards the Law College’s full integration into Michigan State University. The ABA has acquiesced in the transaction; we have earned the approval of the American Association of Law Schools; and we are presently engaged in productive dialogues with both the Higher Learning Commission and the state Attorney General’s office. Further, all members of staff and faculty (myself included) will become employees of Michigan State University on January 1, 2020.

It is difficult to overstate the amount of meticulous and demanding work that this progress has required, particularly on the part of Senior Associate Dean Melanie Jacobs, who has ably spearheaded our human resources efforts. Even as work continues, we look forward to realizing the many benefits of integration that inspired us to undertake this challenging endeavor.

As we close out 2019, I again express my thanks for past and continued support from our alumni family. When you return to campus to share your expertise with our students, support us through annual giving, or provide much-needed scholarship aid to incoming students, you invest in your future colleagues. We cannot thank you too soon, or too often.

I wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a great 2020.

Warm regards,

Lawrence Ponoroff